A Christmas Carol Essay
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By the time the first spirit is introduced, Scrooge has become a new man, he is more polite and approachable, ‘Are you the spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me? ’ We can tell that Scrooge is now calmer and gentler, differing from the once rude behaviour he had, we can tell this from the two commas on the word ‘sir’. Just this one word already denotes the possibility of Scrooges newly opening mind. The spirit of Christmas past takes Scrooge on a ride to his hometown to which Scrooge becomes excited and shows a child like side of him for the first time in a long while, ‘Good Heaven!
’ said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him.
‘I was bred in this place. I was a boy there! ’ This language Scrooge uses is very different to his earlier self, it is happy instead of dull and monotonous. ‘He was conscience of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares, long, long forgotten! ’. Dickens also inserts exclamation marks to show Scrooge’s new attitude and how he is a changed man. The introduction of words that would seem remote to Scrooge like ‘Heaven’, have found their way into his vocabulary.
The harsh consonants of the earlier descriptions (‘it was cold, bleak, biting, weather’) give way to softer, more lush and more expansive sounds. Scrooge also shows signs of remorse, ‘what is the matter? ’ asked the Spirit. ‘Nothing’. ‘There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should have liked to have given him something: that’s all’. This is sad with tears in his eyes, which really shows a radical change in Scrooge. It seems Dickens is constantly installing the idea of change in Scrooge, as he comes into more contact with his human state.
Scrooge meets the second ghost ‘timidly, and hung his head before the spirit’. It can be seen that Scrooge approaches the Spirit with a new mind, which is very different from before, very different from one who said ‘Bah humbug’. The ghost of Christmas present takes Scrooge to see the Cratchits, a deprived and desperate family, who had just enough money for food, ‘There’s such a goose’. The Cratchits are a family who demonstrate what Christmas should be like. The presence of themselves is all they need, their mutual kind and loving affection is what makes Christmas day.
When sitting down to ear Christmas dinner, Dickens uses adjectives ‘tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness’ as metaphors for the family’s love. Scrooge having seen this affection takes a liking to it. Scrooge is told that Tiny Tim shall die soon, he fully regrets what he said before, ‘if he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population’. Scrooge was besieged with remorse and sorrow, a clear sign showing that he care about others, not just himself. Scrooge himself has removed his ‘surplus’ attitude, an attitude which is not needed.
The final spirit appears immediately after the second’s departure, it is by far the most frightening. The use of adjectives shows this spirit to be the terrifying form that it appears in, ‘the phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached’ and ‘beheld a solemn phantom draped and hooded’. Dickens goes on further describing its grotesque and gloomy appearance, but also omits detail of physical and mental being of the phantom. It is revealed that this is the spirit of future, and it takes Scrooge to places he is unaware of. Dickens uses the language of people to emit the emotion of Scrooge.
Scrooge sees businessmen discussing the dead man’s riches, some vagabonds trading his personal effects for cash, and a poor couple expressing relief at the death of this unnamed man. It is revealed they are at the time of Scrooge’s death, though he does not know it yet. He begs to know the identity of the anonymous death and is taken to a churchyard and shown a grave. Realising it is his name on the grave stone he desperately implores the spirit to alter his fate, promising to renounce his insensitive, avaricious ways and to honour Christmas with all his heart.
He vows ‘to honour Christmas in my heart, and to try keep it all the year! I will leave in the past, present and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me, I will not shut away the lessons that they teach! ’. The language is not just what dickens uses to show that Scrooge is a changed man, it is the rhythm and flow which is a lot smoother, these are the speech rhythms of a much more looser and emotional man. When Scrooge awakens, he has a new different attitude to life, it is now filled with encouragement and benevolence as the adjectives suggest, ‘A merry Christmas to everybody!
A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo there! Whoop! Hallo! ’ all these words show a new changed Scrooge. Dickens uses repetition to emphasise the change that has happened. There is a clear contrast in the language from the beginning compared to the end which can also be seen in Scrooges behaviour. There is a completely new vocabulary, ‘so fluttered and so glowing in his good intentions’ and ‘laughing’. This language and behaviour would have been unrecognisable at the beginning of the novella.